I'm normally very prejudiced against animated films, believing them to be just one symptom of the infantilisation of culture, especially when they are acclaimed by the pseudo-intellectuals of the chattering classes. Japanese anime seems to be popular among a certain class of nerd the equivalent of which can be found posting nonsense to music forums or watching birds. For this reason, the whole genre has up to now entirely passed me by.
However, last night BBC4 showed 'Spirited Away' as part of its excellent Japanese season, and from the first seconds of the film I was entranced. It is a work of great visual beauty and imaginative power. Almost every scene haunts the viewer. I have rarely been impressed so profoundly by the sheer strangeness of characters and situations - the nightmarish coexists seamlessly with the funny and the deeply human. Lord knows what the people who made this film were imbibing at the time, but it makes Alice in Wonderland seem like an episode of Last of the Summer Wine.
I can't wait to see this again, and am therefore buying the DVD.